St. Cloud River Runners Present…

St. Paul Man Wins Lake Wobegon Marathon

ST. JOSEPH – Jordan Hanlon and Ben Bruce live 205 miles apart. Hanlon resides in St. Paul and Bruce is a deputy sheriff in rural Mahnomen County.

But all that separated the 29–year-olds, who’ve been friends since high school, on Saturday morning was five minutes and 56 seconds.

That was the margin in which Hanlon needed to beat Bruce, a fellow 2002 graduate of Bagley–Fosston High School, for his second–straight win in the sixth Lake Wobegon Marathon. “It was a great race, I had a good day and I managed to get another win, so I’m happy with that,” Hanlon said. Hanlon finished in 2:38:19. Bruce finished in 2:44:15. “This is a good time of the year and that’s why we both decided on running (Lake Wobegon) again this year,” Bruce said. Brittany Opatz, 27 of Waconia, was the top female with a time of 3:02.59, which set a new women’s course record.

It was the first Lake Wobegon Marathon for Opatz, who ran track and cross country at the University of Minnesota from 2005-09. “I’m running Grandma’s in six weeks, so I thought this would be a good race to start off the season,” Opatz said. “I was trying for 2:50:00, but I put it all out there and there was nothing left. I just kept pushing and looking for that finish line.”

The course started in Holdingford, and went south to Albany before runners traveled down the Lake Wobegon Trail along Interstate Highway 94 through Avon and into St. Joseph. There were 310 finishers in this year’s marathon.

Hanlon was trying for a personal record but came up short. He set a personal record in 2012 with a finishing time of 2:35.23. “I was trying to get another personal record today but I just didn’t have it,” said Hanlon, a marketing analyst for 3M in Maplewood. “I had a little bit of a stomach issue today, so that didn’t help. “It was basically a crosswind the first 10 miles. It didn’t really kill anybody out there, but it didn’t help either.”

But nothing could keep Hanlon from winning way out ahead of the pack. Hanlon said he was running alone for most of the course.

“The rural races are a little bit of a different setting,” said Hanlon, who ran the 2009 Boston Marathon and 2010 Chicago Marathon. “I’m usually running by myself or (with) one other person for most of the course. But since it’s a smaller race, if you’re running quick, you don’t have a big pack to run with.” Bruce said he was also running ahead of the pack, yet there was still a good distance between him and Hanlon.

He beat his personal record that he set last year at the Grandma’s Marathon by two minutes and 52 seconds. “After the first mile today it was pretty solo,” said Bruce, who wrestled in high school but didn’t pick up distance running until after he graduated. “It’s tough when you have no one in front of you to gauge whether you’re running faster or slowing down.”

Bruce and Hanlon took two different routes after high school. Bruce went to Northland Community College in Thief River Falls and finished up at Bemidji State, and Hanlon graduated from St. Thomas. Despite the distance, the two coordinate with each other to find different marathons in the region. They both ran Grandma’s Marathon last year. “We don’t see each other a whole lot so there’s a lot of email correspondence to keep each other updated on training and workouts,” Bruce said. “We try to run Grandma’s every year together. “He usually finishes ahead of me. He’s a little faster. I can’t quite catch him.”

Top 10 Men

1 Jordan Hanlon, 29, 2:38:19

2 Ben Bruce, 29, 2:44:15

3 Jesse Rueckert, 33, 2:52:41

4 Bob Wolter, 28, 2:55:16

5 Eric Porte, 48, 2:56:53

6 Braden Richardson, 28, 2:57:51

7 Evan Richardson, 26, 2:58:29

8 Chris Robbins, 27, 3:01:07

9 Nate Keiser, 30, 3:01:58

10 Chris Humbert, 49, 3:03:04

Top 10 Women

1 Brittany Opatz, 27, 3:02:59

2 Elizabeth Reetz, 31, 3:11:46

3 Brianna Rohne, 29, 3:15:25

4 Jodi Nelson-Ryan, 45, 3:24:26

5 Jennifer Martone, 41, 3:28:01

6 Kristen Gerlach, 42, 3:28:43

7 Judi Nacionales, 44, 3:29:10

8 Marni Allen, 32, 3:29:12

9 Tracy Sik, 43, 3:29:43

10 Nicolette Hildebrand, 27, 3:29:45